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Any of several genera of long-tailed songbirds of the crow family (Corvidae). The black-billed magpie (Pica pica) is 18 in. (45 cm) long and strikingly pied (black-and-white), with an iridescent blue-green tail. It is found in North Africa, across Eurasia, and in western North America. A bird of farmlands and tree-studded open country, it eats insects, seeds, small vertebrates, the eggs and young of other birds, and fresh carrion. It makes a large, round nest of twigs cemented with mud, and is known for hoarding small, bright objects. Other species (in the genera Cyanopica, Cissa, and Urocissa) include the brilliant blue or green magpies of Asia.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on magpie, visit Britannica.com.